Home Opinion Featured Articles Festivals beyond pomp and pageantry: silver jubilee of Gbidukorza in perspective

Festivals beyond pomp and pageantry: silver jubilee of Gbidukorza in perspective

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Social Gbidukorza Jubilee
Social Gbidukorza Jubilee

Celebration of festivals worldwide irrespective of differences in cultural practices is to display the uniqueness and identity of the celebrants.

Genesis

Aside the traditional celebrations, various religious groups also hold celebrations that easily identify them, for instance the Roman Catholic Church’s “Corpus Christi” to wit “The Body and Blood of Christ.

It is accompanied by a procession of the “Blessed Sacrament,” displayed in a Monstrance and though there are other orthodox churches, this is identified only with the Catholic Church.

In Ghana, there are more than 100 festivals that are marked at specific times throughout the country, yearly, until the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, putting hold on such memorial celebrations.

The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) captures these festivals on its calendar, while some educational materials in schools throw more light on their existence, purpose, importance, and time of such celebrations.

Some Ghanaian festivals

Hogbetsotso marked by the Anlos, the Akwasidae by the Akans, the Oguaa Fetu Afahye in the Central region and the Asafotufiam by the people of Ada are some major festivals.

Others are Aboakyir by the Effutu-Winneba, the Homowo in Accra, the Ngmayem by the Krobos, the Fao by the Navrongos, the Bugum Chungu in by the Dagombas and the Damba by people of Nalerigu, Tamale and Wa.

Some festivals are marked to remember an initiative, migration history or farming seasons such as the Charlewote, Akwantukese, Kakube and Kobine festivals.

In the Volta region, the Gbidukorza, Asogli Te Za (Festival), Amu, Dzawuwu, Agbamevorza, Dayibakaka and Sometutuza are some major festivals, which are rallying points to highlight their specific cultural and traditional norms and values.

The Gbidukorza, jointly celebrated by the people of Hohoe known as Gbi-Dzigbe and Peki as Gbi-Nyigbe, is a reunification festival to mark the end of over 300 years of separation through migration from Notsie in the Republic of Togo.

The Gbis, this year in December will mark the 25th anniversary celebration of the Gbidukorza and 27 years of the Gbidukor Unity.

The Gbi people

Who are the Gbis? The people of Hohoe and Peki are named Gbis and they form the Gbidukor and festival as referred to as “aza” added to form the GBIDUKORZA, which is celebrated on rotational basis between the two states annually.

Mama Yaba Okyerebea I of Afeviwofe, Peki, said they were referred to as the GBIs because the two-paramountcies worked together and have a pastime to yarn cotton (referred to in Ewe as “gbi”).

Gbidukorza, which usually is a four-day event began in 1995, with many activities such as “Miawoezor,” which precedes the events and “development meetings” as the climax.

The Gbidukor, which has Togbega Gabusu VII as the Paramount Chief of Gbi-Dzigbe and Togbe Kwadzo Dei XI as the Paramount Chief of Gbi-Nyigbe, speak Ewe as official local language and mostly farmers and entrepreneurs in outlook.

“They are of the same blood, but the events of history have separated and put them 56 miles apart although they are all in the Volta Region and through the dynamism and ceaseless efforts of citizens, a reunification was fought and made possible resulting in an annual celebration of Gbidukorza.”

History has it that the Gbis migrated from Ketu in the Republic of Nigeria westward through rough terrain and encountered many hazards until they finally got to Glime or Notsie in the Republic of Togo.

They remained in Notsie under the “despotic rule” of King Agorkorli for some time and could no longer bear it, so they broke the walls of Notsie to assert their freedom and migrated westward and settled near a dependable river called Dayi in Ghana.

During their journey, it was noticed at one of the temporary settlements that a great chunk of their relatives was missing, which became necessary for them to fight for their recovery, leading to reunification.

Concerns

Despite the fame of the Gbidukorza, a major challenge facing it is its absence on the festival calendar of the Ghana Tourism Authority.

Togbe Keh XII, Divisional Chief of Gbi-Wegbe, said the festival was unique because it was the only festival in Ghana that witnessed the physical movement of citizens of nine towns to become guests of their twin towns in another geographical location for four days each year.

He said it had encouraged private sector investment in tourism infrastructure through the increasing number of guest accommodation, improved transportation, and better communication networks.

Activities of festival

Mr Christian Adusu-Donkor, Director of Gbidukor Events noted that some activities for the celebration included 25th anniversary lecture, inter-town football gala, cycling competition and midweek excursions.

Togbe Adzimah V, Divisional Chief of Gbi Abansi told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) that Gbidukorza was already a memorable festival to the exodus of a whole Traditional Area to another Traditional Area taken into consideration the distance.

He said the Gbidukorza was not seen as a developmental-oriented festival but a re-unification of the two traditional towns that had been separated for decades.

“So, it’s more of Xmas, however that notwithstanding developments have sprung up in both Traditional Areas including good roads, restaurants, schools, hospitals that hitherto were not in these Areas.”

Togbe Adzimah said Gbidukorza also attracted thousands of tourists through cultural exhibition and produced inter-marriages, which was development.

Suggestions

He suggested that a Community Bank; “Gbi Rural Bank” which was birthed because of Gbidukorza was revived to rekindle the spirit of the festival.

Mr Kingsley Freelove Amu, Co-Chairman of Gbidukor National Steering Committee, said the celebration created the platform for all the nine towns in each of the two traditional areas to put in measures to support each other and called for financial support and ideas for a successful celebration.

The Silver Jubilee edition of the Gbidukorza is slated for December 2-5 and to be held in Hohoe on the theme: “Consolidating Our Unity for Sustainable Development.”

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